Without enough sleep, we get run down, tired, and grumpy. While many things can affect our sleep, one of the biggest is sound. Why is it that some people could sleep through a rock concert, but people like me will wake up at the least little sound?
This is something that I’ve long been interested in, since I’m the fussiest sleeper you’ve ever met. If there’s a light on a TV or power switch, it needs to either be covered up, or I need to be wearing a sleep mask. And don’t get me started about noise. I need it to be completely silent or I simply won’t sleep at all- I’ve been known to take the batteries out of ticking clocks because they drive me crazy and make it impossible for me to fall asleep.
So why is it that my brother can sleep through anything? I’ve seen him fall asleep on the couch with everyone talking around him, and I still can’t figure out why I’m the lightest sleeper I know, and yet he has no trouble catching a few Z’s whenever he needs them.
My mother on the other hand, is just like me. I initially thought that it was because she had kids and was used to always keeping one ear out to hear us when we were up through the night, but this is something that has continued on for her whole life. Since my aunt, cousin, and myself also find it hard to sleep (they’re more insomniacs, while I can go to sleep but will be woken at the slightest sound), I always wondered if it was genetics playing a role here.
Basically any noise will wake me while I’m sleeping. A dog barking, someone talking, a toilet flushing, a shower turning on, someone snoring, or a bird chirping.
According to a study by Dr. Jeff Ellenbogen, the number of brain waves or sleep spindles a person produces while asleep shows how deeply they are sleeping while being bombarded with noise. When we’re sleeping our brain waves become more regular and slower, although we sporadically will have high-frequency waves known as sleep spindles. The study found that people with higher spindle rates while sleeping in silence were also more stable sleepers (less likely to wake up when noises were played) on the noisier nights.
As we get older, we produce fewer spindles which means we’re even more sensitive to noise (this does not bode well for me). This explains why many older people have trouble sleeping or sleep for shorter amounts of time each night.
Dr Ellenbogen is aiming to find natural ways for us to enhance sleep, since we can’t always be in a quiet environment, so I’m definitely going to be following his research to see what he recommends as he continues his studies.
There are a few things we can do to make it easier to sleep. I always find that sleeping in a comfortable bed in a cool room helps enormously, so if you’re tossing and turning all night consider checking out the .